The Great Race

By Robert Ecksel on November 10, 2015
The Great Race
We’ve come a long way from Jack Johnson and Jack London and the Great White Hope.

I’m not big on “aura” and “charisma.” I’m also not sure what “risks” and “chances” Mayweather believes he took…

Those who think racism no longer exists are fooling themselves. Lynchings are few and minstrelsy has gone out of style, but old hatreds die hard, if they die at all.

When Obama was elected president I told whoever would listen that it would set back race relations 50 years. People said I was crazy and laughed.

Well, who’s laughing now?

Racism is unfortunately alive and well. It’s less pervasive in some places and among some people, but in other places and among other people it’s as insidious as ever.

Floyd Mayweather isn’t a race man, per se, but he’s more of a race man than Michael Jordan (who famously said, “Republicans by sneakers too”). On one hand, that’s to Mayweather’s credit. On the other hand, he might want to let sleeping dogs lie, especially if his analyses are found wanting.

Speaking with Ben Thompson of, Mayweather shared his thoughts on the current state of affairs in boxing as it relates to race.

Mayweather’s resentment, born of who knows what psychological crises, continues to be off the charts, which proves there are things that money can’t buy. His observations are valid, as all observations are valid, but truths are rarely universal.

When asked about HBO’s moderately successful attempt to make Gennady Golovkin the next big thing in the boxing, Mayweather turned the question on its head.

“What I did, it will never be duplicated. Never!” he said. “I don’t know what my numbers were for pay-per-view the first time out, but I just want to let the fighters know this, just because you can fight has nothing to do with selling tickets, putting asses in the seats, or becoming a pay-per-view star. It takes more than just being able to fight. It takes more than that. You have to have a certain aura about yourself, a certain charisma about yourself, a certain sales pitch about yourself; it takes a total package. The thing is, as far as boxing, it’s all about taking risks and taking chances. I did it. I took risks. I took chances. I’m just waiting to see if Triple G is going to go up and fight Andre Ward. I’m going to be convinced when he can go up and beat Andre Ward. Until then, I’m not convinced.”

I’m not big on “aura” and “charisma.” I’m also not sure what “risks” and “chances” Mayweather believes he took. If I remember correctly, he played it safe much of the time. Be that as it may, he’s in no hurry to anoint Triple G, whatever the color of his skin.

“I honestly feel it’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing, it’s the right thing,” continued Mayweather, “but like I said before, racism still exists in boxing. They had Hispanics and black fighters only that was dominating the sport for years. An Asian fighter comes along and makes a lot of noise, which is Manny Pacquiao. For years, they said I was a coward, I was scared, or I was ducking this guy. All I said is random blood and urine testing and let’s make it happen. Eventually, we got to a certain point, we negotiated the fight, it happened, it is what it is. So what I’m saying is this, they were so adamant about that fight, you know, but they’re not adamant about Triple G fighting Andre Ward?”

Among the “risks” and “chances” Mayweather may have taken and which he failed to describe, fighting super middleweights wasn’t among them. But he seems to be asking Golovkin, a middleweight, to fight a light heavyweight, which suggests that equality is in the eye of the beholder.

“Whoever is forcing Andre Ward to go up to [light] heavyweight, that’s not cool at all,” Mayweather said. “They’re trying to get him beat. From the looks of things, what’s going on in the sport of boxing, they want their superstar to be Caucasian. It’s obvious. And this has been going on for a very long time. They wanted me to lose to Pacquiao, but that didn’t happen. When you get to comparing champions, comparing fighters, all I have to say is I did it my way. I did it my way!”

Quoting Frank Sinatra may not be the optimal route toward establishing one’s racial bona fides, despite Sammy Davis and the work he did for the NAACP before turning reactionary. But I’m not convinced that anybody is “forcing Andre Ward” to do anything, least of all to go up to light heavyweight. I’m also not convinced that they (whoever they are) are “trying to get him beat.”

Ward’s problem is his body is breaking down. He had his moment, four or five years ago, but things have been spotty every since. Despite Mayweather’s assertion that “they want their superstar to be Caucasian,” it’s not as “obvious” as he might think. Maybe because I’m white, for which I’m no more responsible than if I was black, and which is no more a badge of honor than it is a signifier of guilt, I can’t see what’s staring me in the face. But we’ve come a long way from Jack Johnson and Jack London and the Great White Hope. There’s no doubt that racism still exists, maybe even in boxing, but I’m not sure I want to depend on Floyd Mayweather to lead me through the thickets of prejudice.

In that regard, I can depend on myself.

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  1. The Fight Film Collector 08:26am, 11/12/2015

    Whether I or anyone else likes it or not, Floyd Mayweather is going to be in the media until it’s certain that he is retired.  But he is as predictable outside of the ring as he is unpredictable inside the ring.  Whatever comes out of his mouth is spoken to serve his best interest.  That’s a given.  The only subject that Floyd has any authority on is himself.  Floyd will hate on any boxer referred to as a star or as pound for pound, no matter who that boxer is, unless it’s him.  He may, when he’s older and has faced the post career challenges that all boxers face, will be chilled enough to offer some honest perspective.  But that won’t be for some time.

  2. KB 04:45pm, 11/11/2015

    Here you go:

  3. John 02:40pm, 11/11/2015

    If “they” want their superstars to be Caucasian, as Floyd insists, whoever “they” are must be doing a very bad job, indeed. In the last 25 years (Floyd says this has been going on a long time), all boxing’s true superstars have been great, charismatic non-white fighters: Mayweather himself, Pacquiao, De La Hoya, Chavez, Trinidad, Tyson, Holyfield, Roy Jones and Foreman. Heck, in that time even boxing’s second tier of leaders have been almost exclusively non-white: Hopkins, Barrera, Morales, Cotto, Lewis, et al. Now a few Europeans and Russians make a small name for themselves and he thinks its a conspiracy? Sheesh! Grow up.

  4. FrankinDallas 07:22am, 11/11/2015

    Someone remind Floyd that Ward’s father is a white Irishman.

  5. Bobby Beans 06:53pm, 11/10/2015

    “Among the “risks” and “chances” Mayweather may have taken and which he failed to describe, fighting super middleweights wasn’t among them. But he seems to be asking Golovkin, a middleweight, to fight a light heavyweight, which suggests that equality is in the eye of the beholder.”

    Mayweather fought in 5 weights ggg would’ve only needed to go to his second. Ward has yet to even fight at the 175 limit so qualifying him as a LHW is a little far as of yet. The only reason he is staying there now is he can’t get a fight at 168.

    As far as risks go, fighting the #1 at a divsion you can’t make the limit at 3 sperate times is waaay more of a risk than anything ggg is doing.

  6. Art 06:26pm, 11/10/2015

    “I’m not big on “aura” and “charisma.” I’m also not sure what “risks” and “chances” Mayweather believes he took. If I remember correctly, he played it safe much of the time.”
    This is why he’s not the “right” star!!  He left boxing in a very sorry state.  I just hope boxing can recover from the damage this man did to it.

  7. KB 02:58pm, 11/10/2015

    I read this from another article and its thought provoking:

    “The obvious favoritism towards certain fighters can be explained away as efforts to create new, more marketable and more fan-favorite boxing stars, and that’s understandable. But every effort was made to crush the one fighter who had actually proven himself to be a mainstream attraction by easily surpassing every conceivable box office and PPV record. If the boxing overlords wanted a star, they had one—but he wasn’t the right kind of star”.

  8. Jim Crue 11:55am, 11/10/2015

    Mayweather is ignorant. Who cares what he thinks. Fans did not like him because of his color but because he beats up women and minimum wage “security” guards and managed to avoid the best in his division and he is obnoxious and foul mouthed.
    Robinson fought middleweights when he was a welterweight. Emile Griffith fought for the middleweight title when he was a welterweight. Billy Conn weighed 169 LBS when fought Joe Louis. Floyd paid opponents so he did not have to make weight.
    Floyd , like Andre Ward, is now irrelevant

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:11am, 11/10/2015

    Golovkin is Eurasian and only a blind fuk would believe otherwise and the same goes for anyone that doesn’t see that Floyd is a racist….a racist made wealthy beyond belief and reason by the very ones that are the targets of his racism.

  10. KB 10:57am, 11/10/2015

    And Mayweather has earned the right to give his views just as we have the right to ignore him. Don’t attack the messenger; attack the message.

  11. KB 10:55am, 11/10/2015

    Max Kellerman once said—-a long time ago—-that GGG is the Euro Pacquiao.  I get that but I don’t think Max got the implications of what he was saying. I have found myself subconsciously falling into this trap whereby by I praise the Russian at the expense of Nigerians. Yet lo and behold the Nigerians whack out the Russians, I absolutely positively believe racism exists in boxing though in different degrees depending on location. The UK seems to be giving blacks their equal due and the US media might learn from that.

  12. Mike Casey 09:56am, 11/10/2015

    Good points, Eric!

  13. Eric 09:41am, 11/10/2015

    Monzon & Hagler made quite a name for themselves defending their titles against blown-up lightweights and welterweights. Benvenuti, Griffith, Napoles, were all smaller men than Monzon, but I can’t remember a big push for Monzon to take on fellow Argentine, Victor Galindez, or 6’3” Bob Foster. Same thing with Hagler who defended against blown up welterweights/junior middleweights like Hearns, Leonard, Mugabi and blown up lightweight, Duran. Never remember any pressure for Hagler to move up and take on Spinks, Saad, or Qawi/Braxton. I think Hagler & Monzon knew that a fight with the current 175lb kings would have been a very risky move.

  14. Mike Casey 08:41am, 11/10/2015

    I know I should remember who Andre Ward is. Just leave it with me for a while - it will come to me.

  15. Don from Prov 08:40am, 11/10/2015

    Very good article, Mr. Ecksel—

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